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UC design majors test skills on East End

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Carly Branch's first interior design project for a real client may involve creating a new look to an extension at Little India Restaurant & Lounge on Charleston's East End.

For her senior capstone project, the University of Charleston interior design major created a professional-level interior design plan for the Indian restaurant.

To decorate the 3,000-square-foot space that co-owner Harish Anada purchased, Branch, 22, said she wanted to stick to a cheap budget while maintaining a sophisticated feel.

Anada might use the extra space to accommodate larger parties and a younger crowd, according to Branch.

Branch's design included enough seating for 100 people, a 25-foot bar, a stage and black ceilings with the walls painted in red, orange and yellow accents.

Branch wanted to preserve the Indian culture in the design but also incorporate a firehouse atmosphere because the building that houses the current restaurant is an old firehouse.

When Anada said he wanted a game room with a pool table, Branch convinced him that having three additional seats at the bar would be a better design choice, she said.

Though Anada hasn't committed to any specific plans, Branch said he was very happy with the final design plan and "he would be very interested in implementing this," Branch said. That would make the 123 hours she put into the project well worth it, she said.

"He's moving forward with this project and he's set on this concept," Branch said. "He's going to put the [drawings of the design] on display at Little India for customers to view."

Branch revealed her plans Wednesday at a presentation held at Contemporary Galleries. In its third year, the partnership between UC and Charleston East End Main Street is a win-win for businesses and the students, said Ric Cavender, executive director of East End Main Street.

"That's what's so great about this project -- it gives business owners potentially what they can do to their properties for no charge. It could cost them thousands of dollars," Cavender said. "And the students complete a senior capstone."

UC senior Kathleen Wilson drafted free interior design drawings for Main Kwong, a Chinese restaurant on Washington Street East. Wilson also presented her design layout on Wednesday.

Main Kwong owner Corinna Kwok purchased a building next to the restaurant, but is still unsure what to do with the space. Wilson, 23, and Kwok contemplated drawing plans for an office and an ice cream parlor, but decided instead to plan for a new restaurant.

To create a combined hibachi and sushi restaurant, Wilson's design calls for knocking down multiple walls in bad condition to create an open floor plan, she said.

For the hibachi side of the restaurant, Wilson decided to incorporate warm colors such as red and orange, while the sushi side features touches of purple and gold. For economic purposes, Wilson used bamboo throughout the entire restaurant and also stayed with a Chinese theme.

Wilson said Kwok is still unsure what exactly would come of the purchased property. Still, Wilson said that in the future she would use the experience and the knowledge she's gained by working with a real client.

"It's so much different than a hypothetical situation. It's scarier because if you mess something up, it's really going to be there in the design," Wilson said. "I learned so much more just by being out in the field."

Wilson and Branch used computer-aided design and drafting, Prismacolor-branded pencils and markers, Photoshop and hand sketches to complete their projects, Wilson said.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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